Are You An American Idler?

by Katy on June 10, 2008 · 1 comment


With the advent of $4+ per gallon gasoline in the U.S., many of us are re-thinking our driving habits. Can this errand wait? Should I walk or bike? How about public transportation? These are all great options to explore. But there will be times when most of us will continue to rev up.

The problem is, motorists in the U.S. idle their engines an average of 10 minutes per day.

According to the City of Portland, Office of Transportation, a single hour of car idling burns about one gallon of fuel and gets zero miles to the gallon. In fact, just 10 seconds of idling costs more and pollutes your immediate surroundings more than turning your car off and restarting it again. 

Ten seconds? Wow — that’s less than your average red light!

Need more convincing? Consider these specifics, per the City of Portland, Office of Transportation.

“Vehicle emissions are the largest contributing factor to air pollution. The combustion of fossil fuels releases several types of air pollutants that are detrimental to our health. These include sulphur dioxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO) and other toxins contributing to the formation of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.”

Here’s a partial solution. Next time you’re at that extended red light or picking up the kids from school, turn your car off.

You’ll be doing the environment — and your wallet — a favor.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”



I just heard from Donna Green who is in charge of the non-idling campaign with the City of Portland, Office of Transportation. She wrote that:

“The 1 hour of idling equals 1 gallon of gas applies to diesel vehicles – regular gas vehicles use a little more than a 1/2 gallon per idling hour.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kristi June 18, 2008 at 12:52 pm

I’ve been wondering about this — do you have any statistics as to how much gasoline it takes to start a car? Out here in the ‘burbs, several of our lights take nearly two minutes to cycle from “just-turned red” to green (sometimes causing ME to turn red!) I’ve been tempted to turn off the car but wondered whether I wouldn’t be worse off in the long run.


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